A Post to Regret

In general, I try hard not to write posts that might offend or appear to be critical of the schools and teachers in my kids’ lives. Teachers work hard. They have too much to do. They are expected to do more than is humanly possible. They serve as nurse, college professor, psychologist, coach, judge, referee and more. They aren’t paid nearly enough.

Yet, sometimes I get frustrated. Really frustrated. Like today.

I’ve been very lucky to immerse myself in the field of educational technology for the last two years (almost). I don’t have to be distracted by field trips, parent-teacher conferences, truancy, etc. But today I am frustrated by schools, teachers, administrators refusing to think outside the box. By refusing to try to learn new things. By thinking that since that’s how they learned (whether it’s 3 or 30 years ago) that that’s how it needs to be.

Isn’t that enough? Nope. I’m frustrated with the snail pace of decision making. With the constant phrases, “kids will be distracted by the technology.” “Kids will just cheat.” (perhaps we need to redefine our definition of cheating, by the way.)  “I learned without technology, so can they.” With the refusal to think that there is more than one way to teach a child.

Quit telling me (or them) to put that computer back in their pocket. That’s how the world works now. Why aren’t kids being encouraged to do the same? Instead, teach them how to use it responsibly. Take advantage of what they want to use and teach them with that. Quit telling me that you can’t use any technology in class because not everyone has a phone, or texting, or a smartphone, or an iPad. Then figure out how to get them something. It can be done.

Do you think perhaps the reason kids are goofing off and being distracted by their technology is because your lesson is boring????  That perhaps that page of math problems that looks exactly like my math book 30 years ago is no longer engaging to a kid?

Quit telling me that it’s their job. Quit telling me that students should make themselves interested in the topic, that they are in school, that they need to make themselves motivated. They should be interested just because it’s what they are supposed to learn.

That’s a cop out. It’s the education system’s job to keep changing, to keep things relevant to kids. It’s a teacher’s job, and administrator’s job to keep looking for new ways to engage and educate students.

I don’t know about you, but my workplace looks pretty different now than in 1988 when I had my first “professional” job. I typed memos, made photocopies, put them in envelopes and put them in interoffice mail. It’d take two days to get info out. Scheduling a meeting? It took a nimble secretary hours to nail down everyone’s schedule and send the paper notice out. The job I have now? It didn’t exist even five years ago. Couldn’t have been envisioned.

Yet, my kids’ schools teach pretty much the same way I was taught, and I graduated from high school 30 years ago. It’s a disservice to kids to think they all should learn the way we were taught.

I know there aren’t enough hours in the day. I live in that world, too.  Don’t expect to hand teachers (or students!) a device and expect them to come up with great ideas. Thinking outside the box takes inspiration. Give teachers time to read blogs. Send them to conferences. Encourage them to watch webinars. LEARN! Start trying new going to half-day seminars. Watching a webinar. Open your mind. Learn something new. Or – get this – have the kids teach you.

If you’re a teacher, I’m sorry if I offended you. Instead of being upset, please help me understand. Why aren’t my kids’ schools keeping up with the world?